Francona settles on Red Sox's lineup
Manager may switch things up when season beings
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona doesn't have his lineup combination set in stone for the start of the season, but he has a pretty good idea of what it is going to be.
Barring a last-minute change of heart, the Red Sox will probably go with the following order: Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro.
Francona's only hesitation with that order is that lefties Ortiz and Drew are stacked together, and the final three hitters in the lineup are all right-handed. At the same time, he thinks it's probably the best fit for his team.
"What we're going to do, it may not be perfect as far as balance goes, but I think that it's probably the best way to start the year," Francona said. "I'm probably still in Spring Training mode now. When I start getting [scouting reports and matchups] and stuff, that's when that clicks over. But it probably makes sense early to do it like that. We'll see."
Hermida's hamstring feeling better
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Though backup outfielder Jeremy Hermida did not play Wednesday for the fourth consecutive day because of right hamstring tightness, he is making steady progress and should return within the next couple of days.
Hermida got on the treadmill on Tuesday and did some running outside on Wednesday morning.
"I don't know how realistic playing tomorrow is or not," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I think very realistic is Friday. Again, that doesn't mean he won't play tomorrow. I don't know if realistic is the right word. I don't know if he would [play Thursday]. But I think Friday is very realistic."
As long as Hermida can get into a game or two before the end of the exhibition season, he should be able to avoid starting the season on the 15-day disabled list.
Francona indicated that, if anything, the club has taken a conservative approach in getting Hermida back in a game.
"He evidently made really good progress [Tuesday]," Francona said. "I didn't even think he was going to be on the treadmill. He's got full range of motion and he doesn't have any issues. We value their at-bats, but we value their health [more]."
Hermida has had a strong first camp with the Red Sox, hitting .447 with one homer and seven RBIs in 38 at-bats.
Youkilis OK after fouling ball off right knee
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis hit a foul ball off his right knee in the top of the fourth inning of Wednesday's 14-6 victory vs. the Orioles and exited the game in the bottom of the inning. He will be held out of the lineup on Thursday.
"You know what, he's OK," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He went in and got some ice on it. He had a pretty good bruise on it. I think what we'll do is not play him tomorrow. He just had a bruise. He had a pretty good mark on there when he came out. By the time they iced him and worked on him, he was in pretty good shape."
Battle for final two 'pen slots continues
SARASOTA, Fla. -- While the rest of the 25-man roster all but set, the battle for the final two spots in the bullpen is ongoing. When would Red Sox manager Terry Francona like to have that settled?
"Yesterday," said Francona. "I mean, in a perfect world."
But in an imperfect world, the Red Sox signed old friend Alan Embree on March 20, and then another veteran lefty (Scott Schoeneweis) six days after that.
Both southpaws pitched on Wednesday, and neither one turned in a clean inning. Schoeneweis gave up one hit and one run over his inning. Embree surrendered a three-run homer to Ty Wigginton with two outs in the ninth, leading to a stat line (one inning, four hits, four runs and one strikeout) he'd like to forget.
"I know Alan left a ball up that went a long way. I actually thought both of them looked more comfortable, more down in the zone," said Francona. "I thought Schoeneweis threw a couple of good breaking balls. Alan made a mistake that went a long way that kind of skews the line. I thought both of them looked better."
Schoeneweis had a normal Spring Training camp before being released by the Brewers last week. Embree was home in Oregon when the Red Sox called. Because Jon Lester went seven innings, there weren't any innings left over for righty Joe Nelson, another reliever in the mix for a job. Nelson will get his next chance in Thursday's game against the Twins. The fourth candidate is Scott Atchison, who has had a strong camp after pitching in Japan the past two years.
"He's done everything we've asked," Francona said of Atchison. "It looks like what he's throwing, whether it's February, March or April, he's throwing three pitches for strikes. He kind of has a little bit of a funky arm slot where he's kind of throwing out of his ear. I think the ball gets up on a hitter a little bit quick."
Bonser, Lowrie placed on disabled list
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Though neither move was a surprise, the Red Sox placed right-hander Boof Bonser (right groin strain) and shortstop Jed Lowrie (mononucleosis) on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday afternoon. The moves are retroactive to this past Friday, meaning both players would first be eligible to play on April 10.
Bonser, who didn't pitch in the Majors last year following surgery on his right rotator cuff and labrum, tweaked his groin in his start against the Rays on March 22. Bonser pitched in a simulated game on Friday, and he will likely pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday.
"There's still, I think, a pretty good chance he'll pitch on Saturday," manager Terry Francona said. "We'll see how that goes. He's been through a lot. We really like what we see. We don't want to hurt him. [This will] give him a chance to be the pitcher he can be. I think by shortcutting it, I think we feel like we have a chance to mess up. We talked to him and I think he understands. This is a chance to be very cautious with him, also make sure he gets healthy and also give him a chance to get stretched out."
As for Lowrie, he last played for Boston on March 11. Concerned with how much fatigue he had been feeling, Lowrie was examined shortly thereafter, and diagnosed with mono. The switch-hitter was hoping to spend the spring proving to the Red Sox that he was over the left wrist woes that have hindered him for most of his first two seasons. Even if Lowrie had stayed healthy, he might have been hard-pressed to make the Opening Day roster. The club is expected to go with a bench of Mike Lowell, Bill Hall, Jason Varitek and Jeremy Hermida.
"Jed is going to stay down here," Francona said. "We'll get a plan worked out, but I think everyone thought that keeping him on the ground and keeping him in the same place, there's no reason to put him on a plane. He's got his surroundings here and he'll just do what he's going to do."
With the two roster moves, the Red Sox have 33 players left in Major League camp. Daisuke Matsuzaka will go on the disabled list before Opening Day, so Boston has seven more cuts to make before Sunday's Opening Night game against the Yankees.
Papelbon, Okajima appear in Minors games
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Instead of sending them on a 90-minute bus ride, the Red Sox had closer Jonathan Papelbon and setup man Hideki Okajima get their work in at the Minor League complex on Wednesday afternoon.
Papelbon, pitching for Class A Salem, gave up two hits and a run over one inning of work. He walked one and struck out three, throwing 26 pitches.
Okajima pitched for Class A Greenville, giving up two hits and two unearned runs in one inning. He had no walks and one strikeout, throwing 20 pitches.
Both pitchers should take the ball one more time before the regular season starts on Sunday night.
NESN to air Sunday's opener vs. Yankees
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Though the Red Sox-Yankees season opener is a Sunday night game that will be aired nationally on ESPN 2, the game will be shown only on NESN in the Boston area because of blackout regulations. Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy, back for their 10th season together, will make the call on NESN. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.